Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio discuss shooting on the set of "The Wolf of Wall Street." Credit: Paramount Pictures
Once upon a time, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro were considered one of the great filmmaker-actor duos. Times change, and, like many aging successful men, Scorsese has moved onto a younger, hotter model. Leonardo DiCaprio is his man, and the star of five of his last six movies, starting with 2002's "Gangs of New York."
This Thursday and Friday, the duo's joint ventures will be screened at the Ziegfeld, New York's splashy midtown movie palace. (They will, alas, be screened on DCP, but you can't beat that space for old school movie thrills.) DiCaprio will be present for a Q&A prior to the screening of "The Wolf of Wall Street." Joining him will be Scorsese's long-time editor, the incomparable Thelma Schoonmaker, and "Wolf" screenwriter Terrence Winter. The great scholar/critic/curator Kent Jones will moderate their discussion.
As they hit their five film benchmark, it's a good time to look back on how DiCaprio has influenced Scorsese and how Scorsese has used DiCaprio. The five films show the actor's range, from brooding ("Gangs of New York") to alternately schmoozy and tortured ("The Aviator") to driven ("The Departed") to desperate ("Shutter Island") to, finally, gleefully, charismatically amoral ("The Wolf of Wall Street").
Scorsese finally won his Oscar for directing "The Departed," which also won Best Picture. But now that the dust has settled a bit on "The Wolf of Wall Street," it's easier to see what a subversive triumph it is. If it's superficially similar to "Goodfellas," also a ride through the ecstasy of despicable monsters, it winds up going in a different direction. What DiCaprio's ethics-handicapped broker Jordan Belfort wants is what we all, apparently, want: comfort, attractive spouses and ridiculous wealth. As the final shot makes beautifully blunt, we allow the Belforts of the world to thrive — and only minorly punish them, if at all — because parts of us wants to be him. If the revolution comes, perhaps it can be after we get a taste of the sweet life?